BENNINGTON — Southern Vermont College is no longer at risk of losing the accreditation for its two-year nursing degree program, according to the college’s president, Karen Gross.
“I believed in our program from the very beginning. ... I made an assessment that our program was worthy of accreditation and that we had done a great deal to improve our program over the last six years. So I’m very pleased and proud that our program never lost, and still retains, its NLNAC accreditation through May of 2014,” Gross said on Wednesday.
In April, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, or NLNAC, had voted in April to deny continuing accreditation for the college’s associate and bachelor degree nursing programs. However, the college immediately appealed the decision which kept the accreditation in place while the appeal process was running.
Gross said Southern Vermont College was notified on Friday that accreditation would be renewed until May.
Bobbe Ann Gray, interim chairwoman of the college’s Division of Nursing, said she was very happy to have the accreditation question resolved in the college’s favor.
“We are certain that our students and our supporters in the local community will join us in celebrating this beneficial outcome. We look forward to our graduating class in May 2014 finding all the success that we could wish for them,” she said.
While Gross said she was pleased by the news, it also comes at a time of transition for both the college and the accrediting organization.
The accreditation was for Southern Vermont College’s associate degree in nursing, or ADN, program which is coming to an end. No new students will be admitted although the college will “teach out” the program, allowing those who are already enrolled to graduate and get their nursing degrees.
“The (NLNAC) has agreed that all graduates from that program will be graduating from an accredited program. ... We never lost that accreditation. We appealed that decision and for good cause, they continued our accreditation through the end of that program,” Gross said.
Instead of the ADN program, the college is now offering a four-year bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, program. The program has already gotten provisional approval from the Vermont State Board of Nursing and the college is applying to the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE, for accreditation.
The CCNE only provides accreditation for programs that offer a bachelor’s degree or higher so it was not an option for Southern Vermont College for its ADN program.
Another program, that allows registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, is also accredited by the NLNAC. There was also a recommendation that its accreditation not be continued but that recommendation was also resolved and reversed in a decision reached on Friday.
“We basically have shown them that we are entitled to continuing accreditation and that their recommendation should not be carried out,” Gross said.
That program will be accredited through May. The NLNAC will visit Southern Vermont College in the April to decide whether accreditation should be renewed.
However, the accrediting group will be operating under its new name, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN. Over the summer, the NLNAC split from its parent organization, the National League for Nursing.
The two organizations have been in litigation since then in a case for which there was a recent ruling by the New York Supreme Court but which both sides have described on their websites as “ongoing litigation.”
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